Genetic Future

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I’m currently playing around with my 23andMe data in the deCODEme browser
deCODEme’s (apparently new?) Relationship Check feature, which appears to be a targeted version of 23andMe’s Relative Finder algorithm, allows users to compare their genetic data to other profiles in the database and calculate the probability of a familial relationship. 
My comparison with notoriously cranky deCODE CEO Kari Stefansson (pictured, left) gave me this reassuring result:
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Phew!
On Twitter, genetic genealogist extraordinaire Blaine Bettinger noted that deCODEme appears to have also introduced a brand new community section containing forums (all currently looking rather empty). A reader also recently noted via email the introduction of research questions asked when users consent to examining their results for each different disease.
It looks to me as though the offer of free analysis has been timed to expand the (by all accounts previously fairly tiny) pool of deCODEme users in time for the launch of these new features, all of which rely on a critical mass of users to be of much interest. 
It’s an interesting approach, but unfortunately thus far all of deCODEme’s improvements look very much like attempts to clone innovations previously developed by 23andMe – which I suspect is not really a viable long-term strategy. We’ll see what they come up with next.

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Comments

  1. #1 Andro Hsu
    December 22, 2009

    deCODEme says my mitochondrial haplogroup is M*. 23andMe says E1a (my mom is from the Philippines). I don’t think they even test for E.

  2. #2 Jeff
    December 23, 2009

    Ha, that’s excellent! It would’ve been even more awesome if the result showed a picture of Kari saying this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwExDG7n7Zg

  3. #3 Ann Turner
    December 23, 2009

    The Relationship Check is not a new feature — it’s been there since the beginning, but they’ve expanded the range somewhat since then. At first it would only predict very close relationships (no more distant than grandparents/grandchildren or uncle/nephew). It will now recognize first cousins once removed, but not a second cousin, in my set of test cases.

    23andMe’s Relative Finder will go out to 10th cousins, albeit in a very probabilistic fashion with a wide confidence interval. It may be that deCODEme’s more conservative approach is due to the nature of their Icelandic genealogies, where practically everybody is related to everybody else through multiple lines of descent. That would certainly make it harder to predict relationships.

    Ann Turner
    Disclosure: I have a consulting arrangement with 23andMe, but the statements expressed above are my own and not official policy of 23andMe.

  4. #4 Ernie Bornheimer
    December 25, 2009

    To Daniel and Ann

    I, too, recently uploaded my 23andMe data to deCODEme, and am exploring it now. What a great opportunity!

    It seems deCODEme’s Relationship Check only allows comparisons to specific people (“Friends”) who I have already identified. Compare that with 23andMe’s Relative Finder, finds people in their database who are likely related to me, and offers the opportunity for contact. If that’s true, the 23andMe service seems much more efficient.

    Or maybe I’m missing something?

    Thanks to Daniel for the excellent blog! And to Ann for her great book.

    Ernie Bornheimer

  5. #5 Ponto
    February 9, 2010

    I don’t like 23andMe. A total waste of money. Learned nothing about my ancestry which is more important to me than silly health prognostications or finding people supposedly related to you, which frankly I don’t want.

    deCODEme’s health risk indicators are better, their PCA maps better, their dna browser better and their community doesn’t contain the bias of 23andMe.

    I am truly sorry I went to 23andMe. A horrible site.

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